February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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66 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 W hen printing T-shirts with direct-to-garment printing, taking a couple of minutes to optimize art before print- ing can turn a typical print into something amazing. No matter which direct-to-gar- ment printer you use, there are some basic rules that will help you achieve the best re- sults possible. COLOR MODEL Even though your printer uses CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and keyline/black) to print, designing your artwork in a RGB (red, green, and blue) color model can push the boundaries of direct-to-garment prints. Digital textile inks used in direct-to-gar- ment printers may not necessarily be pure CMYK values, which gives RIP software the ability to intensify col- ors that might otherwise be dull when printed on paper. When designing in RGB, your files will be smaller but will not lack the quality needed. TRANSPARENCIES If your printer has white ink capability, it's best to design your artwork with a transparent background. All software used to print your design may have differ- ences, but generating transparencies for a white layer is common throughout most programs. Where there is a transparent background, there is no data, and since there is no data, no white pixels will be generated. This is the most accurate way to generate a white ink layer, and simply the most forgiving. If you are printing a photo or rectangular design, then transparencies won't be needed. If your graphics are built from a vector- based program like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW, then exporting the file as a PNG or TIF file will include transparencies with the correct export settings. A PNG file is a great file structure to use because it reduces your file size and does not add unwanted pixels to your image. One main difference to note when choosing between a PNG or TIF file, is that PNG files are only used with an RGB color model, whereas TIF can be saved in either RGB or CMYK. It is better to save your file with a CMYK color model when using TIF files, since some RIP programs may not be able to handle an RGB TIF file properly. RESOLUTION While low resolution files may be able to achieve good results, it's wise to con- sider the print head's resolution. Since print heads vary in resolution, look to see how many nozzles per chan- nel are in a linear inch. In a common direct-to-garment print head, there are 1,440 nozzles in a linear inch with eight channels or colors. Most of the time, four channels will be dedicated to CMYK and four to white ink. It is a Optimizing Art Create the best art for direct-to-garment printing B Y J E R I D H I L L Jerid Hill graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1993 for graphics and design and entered the T-shirt industry in 1998. In 2004 he was introduced to direct-to-garment technol- ogy. After owning a printing and design busi- ness, he was intrigued by direct-to-garment technology to the point of selling his printing company in 2011 to work for BelQuette Inc., a manufacturer of direct-to- garment printing equipment. With just a few adjustments, you can change light, midtone, and dark shades, as well as the background to make the image pop. (All images courtesy the author) ■ Intermediate ● Beginner

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